Well, things could have certainly gone better for the Minnesota Wild in their season opener against the New York Rangers. Falling and earning the 7-3 loss in front of the home crowd is not the best, especially when the score resembles that of a (low scoring) football game.
The Wild did things well enough on the offensive side of the puck, finishing with 36 total shots on net, but unfortunately the other team had the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Igor Shesterkin in their crease and the shooting talent somewhat dwindled when the comeback was attempted.
In a Twilight Zone, upside-down world sort of way, it was Minnesota’s defense that was the problem in the first of 82 regular season games Thursday, the just appeared to let the Rangers get the better quality of chances and then it just so happened that the ended up scoring way more goals.
A couple Wild players had some things to say on the lack of support in their own zone.
“Not great. Not our best for sure,” Matt Boldy, who scored two of the three Wild goals, said. “I think everyone in this room would give you the same answer, it’s got to be better for sure. Help Flower out more.”
And some put it a little more bluntly. Waving and swatting off the question like it was a flying pest and saying that it will only help with more practice.
“Awful. ... We’ll figure that out tomorrow,” Ryan Hartman said.
While those two could have certainly contributed to allowing more goals than the Wild scored, it wasn’t without their own effort to get the offense going and attempting the comeback. As mentioned, Boldy scored two-thirds of his team’s goals, while Hartman had an average game with four shot attempts and two forcing saves.
But among everyone trying to say that the team needed work, there was the undertone of a full competitive effort, never singling out one player no matter who might have had the poor performance. Hell, even the starting goaltender did not blame the ease with how the Rangers offense cut through the zone on the skaters playing in front of him.
“I try to worry about myself, trying to worry about stopping the puck,” Marc-Andre Fleury said after the game. “It doesn’t matter what play comes at me — there were some tough ones, obviously, but to me, I still feel like I should make more saves and give the team a chance.”
The Wild will get their next opportunity to improve defensively in their second game of the season, hosting the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. At least this time the opponents don’t have an insane amount of offensive tools. They do have a returning Kevin Fiala with most likely a chip on his shoulder.